November 18, 2015

Hour of Code - Computer Science Week - December 7-11, 2015

For the third year our students will participate in the Computer Science Week "Hour of Code" in early December. The materials and resources that are posted on the HOC website support learning by tens of millions of students worldwide.

Our plan is for first graders to use the iPad App Kodable, gathering all the iPads so that each student has one for the class time that day. The 2nd graders will use the web version of The Foos to explore planning steps, repeating and building some programming loops. Third grade students will use the Lightbot Hour of Code site to move into the next levels of logical thinking and programming. By fourth grade students have a wider range of experience with coding and programming so they can learn to program the Frozen characters, create in Scratch, solve puzzles in a Minecraft game, build a Star Wars Galaxy and more. Students enjoy revisiting the Blockly Angry Birds Puzzles, coding a Flappy Birds game and many other activities that introduce the concepts of programming and game development.

October 28, 2015

Why Teach Google Earth: what are 2nd graders learning?

Second graders study communities, with one focus being our school garden and observing plants and animals. To help with learning about butterflies the technology connections include using the Journey North materials on the migration of monarch butterflies.

The teacher uses a classroom projector to show students the maps that show the path of the butterflies as they migrate to Mexico. After students have seen the maps they can use Google Earth to visit the states that they have seen pictured on the maps. As a literacy skill they learn that there are two letter post office abbreviations that they can enter in the search box to "fly to" a new state (e.g. MA, NH, MN, TX) and then zoom in and out to view the overall colors and features of the landscapes that give them visual cues as to the topography. What can they see when they travel? (Questions: Does the state of Minnesota look like the state of Texas? What do you see? What do you think the land looks like there?) What is going on in their minds as they change the view to go closer and then zoom back out to view the state boundaries and country borders? Is there a mathematical-spatial learning process going on?

Recently I've been reading about "partner learning" and the power of having students talk out loud about their explorations and questions. For this session using Google Earth we paired the students and had a "navigator" enter the search text and a "pilot" who pressed Return or clicked on Search to "fly" to a new destination.

What are students learning as they "fly", "zoom" and explore a virtual earth? The engagement in the room is full of, "What ifs?" and wondering as they talk about going N, S, E, W, look at the geographic features like lakes, mountain ranges and deserts. They are talking about countries, continents, oceans and more as they move around and explore. They are asking basic questions about typing on the laptops, finding letters, the space bar, delete key, etc.

A classroom teacher wrote a blog post about the session and the inclusion of a follow up activity where students went to see their own homes and explored the town. Part of the power of this lesson was the collaboration between the classroom teacher and my role as instructional integrator.

July 28, 2015

EdCamp OOB

July 28th was the first Edcamp launched by a team of Old Orchard Beach educators. Over 100 area instructional technology, media/library and classroom teachers gathered to share ideas and learn from each other. The structure of this Edcamp was the usual plan of an open board that becomes a set of sessions when teachers put stickies up and organizers move them around to combine ideas and place sessions.
I attended sessions on "Genius Hour", Makerspaces and apps for early learning. I have a new set of resources to share from each of the sessions. Alice and I both attended the Makerspaces session, the notes on this shared doc.  Mike and I went to the session on implementing the Genius Hour concept. I would like to work with teachers on the possibility of implementing a spring fourth grade unit, Billy Corcoran share his doc that describes what his 4th grade classroom did last year along these lines. He used his literacy block on Friday mornings. 

I spent the 3rd session with Libby Corcoran who is a special educator who is also an app developer. I will be reviewing her app The Reading Train with our Kindergarten team. The app allows for individual logins and is organized into leveled books. Students can hear the books, read on their own or record themselves reading. Libby also has .pdfs of the Level 1 books that can be printed and sent home with students. I was very impressed by her story of becoming an app developer and I think this app may well be just what we have been looking for as a way to support literacy learning with the K iPads. Libby also shared a list of apps that she thinks are of value; this will be helpful as well in getting started with our second year of iPads in K and our third year in first grade.

July 17, 2015

Teaching and Learning with iPads - USM 2015

USM EPC 576 Teaching and Learning with the iPad

This summer there were fifteen K-12 educators who spent the middle week of July working toward new ways to use iPads in their classrooms. The collaborative and individual projects shared on the last day of the course were the highlights of the week. My goal in teaching the course is to give teachers enough of a start to bring about something significant as the school year unfolds.

June 25, 2015

Engaging Learners Using Technology - Yarmouth Course

The week after students finish classes is traditionally the beginning of the Yarmouth Technology Course, this year entitled Engaging Learners Using Technology. A group of about twenty educators, three who are not Yarmouth teachers, met to challenge themselves to look at an instructional area or unit that could be changed to increase the engagement of learners through the use of technology. The animated, collaborative conversations culminate in "Shark Tank" style pitches for project ideas submitted by each individual or team. There will be a half day on a Saturday in September for teachers to get assistance with projects and then the final day will be presentations by all participants on a Saturday in October.

May 6, 2015

Second Graders Learn to Program with "The Foos"

Second graders used "The Foos" for Hour of Code in December. There has been considerable interest in returning to this problem-solving, logical thinking activity this year. The website: has links to download the free app for iPads, iPhones, Android devices and computers if families are interested.

March 18, 2015

Girls Who Code through YCS After School

Following the ideas and activities from the Hour of Code, this is the first year that we have gathered a group of fifteen girls to focus on the ideas of logical thinking and programming. The resource page for the class serves as starting point for the group to create, collaborate and design.


March 2, 2015

RI Google Apps for Education (GAFE) Summit 2015

This past weekend was the first Rhode Island Google Summit. Google educators joined members of EdTech Team to offer sessions to 380+ educators from Rhode Island and neighboring states. During each Google Summit the sessions range for the technical information needed for administering Google Apps in a district to how teachers can use any and all of the Google products in classroom settings. 

I offered sessions on using GAFE with iPadsBlogger: The School to Home Connection, and Jazzing up your Sites and Blogs. I attended several sessions when I wasn't teaching and came away inspired by ideas for empowering our students to collaborate with each other and share their products beyond the confines of the school.

February 27, 2015

EdTech Teacher Google Jamboree

Alice Barr, Mike Arsenault and I joined 200 educators at Google Boston headquarters to learn and share the ideas of curiosity, creativity and learning that matters. The message from the EdTech Teacher presenters and the panel of Google employees was that schools should prepare students to be flexible thinkers, thoughtful collaborators and continuous learners. 

Jennie Magiera (who blogs at and on EdWeek) showed stories and videos from her life as a technology support facilitator in the Chicago public schools. A big takeaway for me was to help our kids share their messages more on YouTube. Here is a video by some of Jennie's students that was shown at the recent White House Film Fest:

I'm thinking, what if we did a persuasive writing project that had some students select an iMovie trailer or another video format to share their message? Can we support that given the time constraints that exist? What learning goals would be met by doing this type of project?

Jennie also did a session on using tablets. In her case the devices were Nexus 7s, but the activities could also work with an iPad. We toured the Google building with a scavenger hunt list. Our assignment was to take a selfie with each item, put the photos into a group Drive folder which was also in a shared folder so that everyone could see them. This would be a good faculty session for building the concept of shared Drive folders as well as familiarity with taking photos with mobile devices. Then we explored using the app Explain Everything to create screencast videos that could then be sent to Drive for shared projects or viewing.

Other sessions focussed on using Chrome apps and extensions for things like screencasting or video notes and creating "plan your own adventure" YouTube videos.

February 17, 2015

ACTEM Mini-conference 2015

Once again ACTEM is offering some half day sessions for teachers and school technology personnel. The southern sessions are being held at South Portland High School. Sessions are described here: and the website for all the workshop resources is here: It's great to have the opportunity to work with small groups of teachers from many school districts. Thursday we will be at Hampden Academy to work with teachers from schools in that area.

January 29, 2015